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New Horizons snaps image 3.8 billion miles away from Earth

15 February, 2018, 07:41 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • NASA share farthest pic of Pluto from Earth 1222018

NASA has a whole lot of fancy image-gathering hardware on Earth and in space, and we've seen countless of stunning snapshots taken from here on Earth as well as nearby planets like Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. So, after exploring Pluto in 2015, New Horizons, started on its secondary mission to explore 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO), which it should reach in 2019. It is now about 41 times as far from Earth as Earth is from the sun.

The "pale blue dot".

The previous record holder for the farthest picture was NASA's Voyager 1, which shot the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth on February 14, 1990.

New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft that goes through the heights of our solar system and opens itself into the real vast universe.

Two hours later, New Horizons has already beaten his own record by making color photographs of two Kuiper Belt objects (2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85).

In the course of its extended mission in the Kuiper Belt, the New Horizons team seeks to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets and "Centaurs" - i.e. former KBOs that have unstable orbits that cause them to cross the orbit of the gas giants.

When New Horizon's snapped a photo with its telescopic camera for a routine calibration frame of the Wishing Well star cluster, it was farther into space than even NASA's Voyager 1 had been when it captured its famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth, the space agency says.

NASA said in a statement that New Horizons snapped a picture of a group of stars known as the "Wishing Well" when the spacecraft was about 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the Kuiper Belt object 2012 HE85.

MU69 will be the most distant world ever explored.

Flight controllers at the lab will awaken the spacecraft in June (it's now in electronic hibernation) and start getting it ready for the flyby.

NASA said New Horizons is in the hibernation mode now, awaiting its next adventure due January 1, 2019, at which time it will fly past an Kuiper Belt object (KBO) named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft travels more than 700,000 miles of space every day.

"New Horizons just couldn't be better... we're bearing down on our flyby target", said lead scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For a couple of hours, this New Horizons image of the so-called Wishing Well star cluster, snapped on December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever captured by a spacecraft.

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